This blog is directed at new agents. Experienced agents, who know their systems, their markets and their contracts, and who have a steady stream of business can certainly succeed working part-time. But in the first year......
No! Selling real estate (well) is NOT a part-time job!
I know this opinion is unpopular. And because I like to be liked, I've kept my mouth shut. As an active participant on several real estate forums, I see this question come up time and again. Responses range from "Oh, yes, you can definitely sell real estate part time" to "Well, you can do it, but you'll have to work real hard." To my great surprise, no one comes right out and says "Are you crazy??"
So, I'll be brave and go first... "Are you crazy?"
Let's talk about the reasons someone might become a PT real estate agent...
Uh...okay, only one reason comes to mind. Money. Not enough of it.
I can't think of any other reason someone would start a new career and only attack it half-assed (or less!)
This is a tough business to get into, especially now. Well, I should rephrase that - it's certainly not tough to get into, but it's very tough to succeed in. Rumor has it that eighty percent of new agents fail within the first year. Eighty percent! So, if you are considering entering a business in which eighty percent don't make it through the first year, the odds are very much against your chances of succeeding. And you think that giving it less than your all is going to improve those odds?
The common song I hear when agents insist on going part-time is a whining "Well, it would be NICE if I could do it full-time, but not EVERYONE has that luxury!"
Then, maybe, just maybe, this isn't the right time. Just because selling real estate is your dream doesn't mean that you are entitled to succeed if you aren't ready. Some dreams may just have to wait. Patience, grasshopper!
But enough ranting and raving (maybe). Here are some solid reasons part-time is not nearly as cool as full-time:
1. Being part-time screams to your friends, prospects and clients that you aren't successful enough to do it full-time. And who wants to work with an unsuccessful real estate agent?
2. Being part-time requires you to be oh-so-efficient with your time. This sounds like a good thing, but it's not. In the course of learning to be a good real estate agent, you need to be able to risk "wasting" your time. For example, let's say you get a floor call from a marginally qualified buyer. If you're part-time, you might be tempted (or forced) to turn him away. If you're full-time, you're delighted for the opportunity to practice your craft, regardless of the potential for a paycheck. But I guarantee you, whether or not you get paid for running around with this buyer, the learning experience will be worth every "wasted" minute. And who knows, this buyer could end up being your biggest referral source.
But as a part-time agent who doesn't have time to mess around, you'll never know.
3. I don't see how a new part-time agent can truly serve her clients when she doesn't have the time to learn her craft. When I was new, everything I did took me five times as long to do as it should have because I had a huge learning curve to climb over. I worked very hard (full-time) to learn my market, to master my systems, to know my contracts inside and out, to develop my team of service providers and oh, yes, to answer my phone every time my clients called... or to return their calls within five minutes.
4. Your paying clients expect and deserve your full attention. Especially when you're new and, c'mon, admit it, you don't know what you're doing. When you go on your first listing appointment, you SHOULD have spent the previous 48 hours straight preparing your market analysis. Your fear of failure and embarrassment should motivate you to go through the comparable market data with a fine-toothed comb. A part-time agent doesn't have the time or energy for this.
Your buyer needs an agent who is as enthusiastic about his house-hunt as he is. He deserves an agent who previews like a madman to find just the right house the day it hits the market. An agent who is willing and able to hold the buyer's hand through the painful inspection. An agent who can drop everything and spend five hours making phone calls when a last-minute crisis threatens your buyer's closing.
5. The agent on the other side of the deal expects and deserves your attention. She doesn't want to do your job for you just because you're at your "real" job and can't get away. And remember, you're making her look bad to her clients when she can't reach you to get a question answered or a problem resolved.
6. Selling real estate is a constant learning experience. Even full-time, experienced agents learn something new with every sale or listing. If you're only selling four or five houses a year because you're part-time, you're missing out on a lot of on-the-job training. It doesn't matter how smart, how motivated or how charming you are, you'll never be as qualified as a good full-time agent.
(Note I said "good." There are plenty of bad full-time agents and you may very well be more qualified than some of them).
7. In both of your careers, if something goes wrong, it's going to be blamed on your dual-life. Perhaps with good reason.
Again, I know my opinion is unpopular. I just know how hard I worked in my first five years, and I can't imagine succeeding in (or even enjoying) this career without devoting my heart and soul to it.
So, here's an alternate plan. If you want to sell real estate and you want to succeed... work your backside off for the next year and save some money. Work two or even three jobs that guarantee you a paycheck and put that money away. After all, that's what you're talking about doing anyway, right? Working two jobs? If you think building a real estate business is easier than, say, waiting tables at night, you're mistaken. At least waiting tables guarantees you $3/hour with no out-of-pocket costs!
Then, hit your new career with guns blazing. ALL your energy. ALL your enthusiasm. ALL your attention. You'll be glad you did, I promise.
copyright Jennifer Allan 2007